This article is written by Sanyam Khatri, A student of Gitarattan International Business School, GGSIPU
The term Principle of Natural Justice is derived from the term of Roman law ‘Jus Natural’ of and it is related to principles based on humanity. It is a law of nature and not derived from any statute or constitution. With supreme importance, this principle is adhered to by all the citizens of the civilized State.
It simply means to make a procedure on a particular issue that is sensible and reasonable. Many times, it doesn’t matter what is the reasonable decision but in the end, what matters is the procedure and who all are engaged in taking the reasonable decision. It is not restricted within the concept of ‘fairness’ it has different shades which vary from situation to situation. Natural justice consists of three crucial rules.
“Hearing rule” – a fair opportunity to express his point should be given to that person or party who is affected by the decision made by the respective authorities.
“Bias rule” – states that authorities who are making the decision should be biased free while taking the decision. The decision should be given in a free and fair manner fulfilling the principles of natural justice.
“Reasoned Decision”– states that order, decision, or judgment given by the respective authorities should always be on valid and reasonable ground.
It’s an ancient concept and it originated at an early age. The people of ancient Greece and the roman empire were also familiar with this concept, moreover ancient Indian philosophers like Kautilya, arthashastra were also familiar with the concept of natural justice. According to the Bible, when Adam & Eve ate the fruit of knowledge, they were forbidden by the god but before giving the sentence, they both were given a fair chance to defend themselves.
And then later this concept was also accepted by the English jurist. The word natural justice is derived from the ancient terms jus-naturale and lex-naturale which initiate the principles of natural justice, natural law, and equity.
In our country, the concept of principles of natural justice was introduced early. In a case, the court held that the concept of fairness should be in each & every action whether it is judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative, and or quasi-administrative work.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PRINCIPLE
- To provide an opportunity of being heard without being bias.
- There are a lot of loopholes in law it also helps in fulfilling these
- To promote the concept of fairness
- To safeguard the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the constitution
- To ensure that there should be no miscarriage of Justice and it is violative to the concept
Hon’ble Supreme court said that giving a reasonable and justifiable judgment is the primary objective of judicial and other administrative bodies. The primary objective of natural justice is to ensure that there is no act of miscarriage of justice.
A committee of the ministers gave 3 essentials procedures related to this concept of natural justice and they are as follows-
- No one should be a judge in his matter.
- No one can be condemned unheard.
- The party is entitled to know every reason and the decision taken by the authority.
It includes the concept of basic principles based on morality and fairness and various kinds of biases and why this concept is required Ina case it was stated that this concept will be applicable on statutory as it is a basic principle of Natural justice which leads to fairness and justice.Effect of function, the doctrine of Legitimate exception, disciplinary proceeding, civil consequences, and fairness in action is the administrative action of this concept.
In a case where a student was caught while cheating in the examination hall and he was debarred due to the act. Hon’ble Court held that student cannot file a Public Interest Litigation against the examination board. In a case, where all the executive engineers were blacklisted hon’ble court held that without giving a valid and reasonable ground you cannot blacklist anyone and further he should be given a fair opportunity of being heard.
Basic rules of Principle of Natural Justice
- NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA
- AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM
- REASONED DECISION
Nemo Judex In Causa Sua: It means that “No one should be a judge in his case” as it will lead to the rule of biases. Bias means an act that leads to unfairness whether in a conscious or unconscious stage about the party or a particular case. Therefore, the necessity of this rule is to make the judge unbiased, and given judgment should be based on evidence recorded as per the case.
There are numerous kinds of Bias for example pecuniary bias, departmental bias, personal bias, subject matter bias, policy notion bias, bias on the account of obstinacy.
It arises from a relationship between the party and deciding authority which will lead to a biased decision by the deciding authority mainly such equations rises due to various forms of personal and professional relations.
In a case, the Hon’ble court to avoid the act of bias at the turn of his brother respective panel member connected with the candidate can be requested to go out from the panel of the selection committee to ensure a fair and reasonable decision
If any of the judicial authorities have any kind of financial benefit, it may be will lead to biasness by the respective authority.
Subject matter bias:
When directly or indirectly the deciding authority is involved in the subject matter of a particular case it will lead to biasness. In a case, the hon’ble court refused to revoke the decision given by the Election Tribunal on the ground that the chairman’s wife was a member of INC whom the petitioner has defeated.
It is very common almost in every administrative process and leads to decisions violative to natural fairness.
Audi Alteram Partem:It includes three Latin words which mean that no person can be penalized or punished by the court without having a fair opportunity of being heard to defend him. The meaning of this rule is that all the parties related to the case should be given a fair chance to present themselves with their rational and relevant points and a fair trial should always be conducted. It’s a significant rule of the principle of natural justice and its bare form is not to penalize or punish anyone without any rational reason. Prior notice should be given to a person so that he can prepare to know what are the charges framed against him. The elements of fair hearing are not fixed or rigid they always vary from case to case, facts to facts.Hon’bleCourt held that notice should specify on the matter of bias clearly, facts and circumstances against which needs to be taken. It’s one of the rights of the individual to defend himself from the charge framed against him so he should be familiar with the relevant matter so he may contradict the statement and safeguard himself.The notice should always be regarding the charges framed against the accused. One can only be penalized or punished on the charges against him which are mentioned in the notice, not for any other charges. After receiving the notice he must be
given a reasonable period to prepare and present his case to defend him Right of fair hearing also includes the right to cross-examination the statement made by the parties. If a tribunal or an authority denied the right to cross-examination then it is violative to the principles of natural justice and most importantly all the necessary copies of documents should be given and failure of that will also violate the principle. Section 137 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 defines the term cross-examination.
In the case, the court held that if the party itself refuses and revokes his right to cross-examine the witness then it will not fall under miscarriage of natural justice. In the process of inquiry, everyone has a basic right to have his legal representative. Each party will be presented by a legally trained person and no one can denySimilarly, the department has the same right to direct its officials even though there are investigating officers in conducting an adjudicating proceeding.
Though there are some exceptions too, here are some exceptions related to Principles of Natural Justice
- Emergency period
- Nature of the case which might not be of that level
- If it’s unaffected for the status of individual Express statutory provision
- Public interest
Now we come to a reasoned decision that has 3 grounds on which it relies i.e.-
- The aggrieved party has the prospect to demonstrate before the appellate and revisional court that what was the rationale that makes the authority reject it.
- It may be a satisfactory part of the party against whom the choice is formed.
- The responsibility to record reasons works as an obstacle against arbitrary action by the judicial power vested within the executive authority.
The principles of natural justice have been accepted and followed by the judiciary to protect public rights guaranteed by the constitution itself against arbitrary decisions by the respective authority. It can easily be seen that the rule of natural justice includes the concept of fairness and safeguards fairness in the decision-making process. So at any stage of the procedure if any authority is given off the judicial function is not purely accepted but the primary objective of the principle of natural justice is to prevent the miscarriage of justice. It is very crucial to note that any order or judgment or any kind of decision that is violative to natural justice will be declared null and void. The principle of natural justice is not restricted to its applicability of the principle but depends upon the characteristics of jurisdiction, grant to the administrative authority, and the nature of individual’s rights that are affected.